If you look closely at the recent presidential election, it becomes clear that many societal needs remain unfulfilled. I'm not talking about the trivial ones, such as tolerance of others and personal accountability. Rather, according to the polls and the outcome, Americans felt that what was lacking in America were things like security. Family values. And, it would seem, debt. Because of those perceived needs, we made the decision to re-elect President Bush. That was a decision. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that there may be a group more fit than the American government, if that can be believed, to combat the fears that plague so many Americans. This organization a knighthood, if you will is presently spreading the gospel of chivalry throughout the world. And they're doing it with clip-art.
The group is known as the Order of La Mancha, and it is lead by a man who, like Ghandi, Gallagher and countless other heroes before him, goes by a single name: Victorino, Knight Commander. According to his website, www.chivalryisnotdead.org, Victorino, Knight Commander who was vacationing in St. Thomas at the time received a "Founders Call" that instructed him to found the Order of La Mancha on September 1st, 2004. In the five months since then, the site has faced an unfathomable influx of traffic. At last check, the counter read 468. That's nearly 500 visitors in just five months (3.3 a day), kicking down the door to gain entrance.
Though some might be discouraged by the seemingly low turnout, Victorino, Knight Commander, has faith in the inherent draw of chivalry. The stated goal of the site, and Order, is one million knight-members by 2025. With 57 members after just 5 months, our good friend Math estimates that the Order will have around 3300 members at the end of 2025, thus narrowly missing their target enrollment. Even so, 3300 card-carrying knights and there is a card, as you will see is a pretty hefty arsenal of chivalry. In what may be the most comforting number on the site, the roster reveals that 48 of those members hail from our very own United States of America. This only confirms what I have long believed: the US is far and away the most chivalric country in the world.
Once at the website, visitors are introduced to a wealth of information and pictures detailing what the 12th century would've been like if everything weren't covered in feces and cholera. The site uses a clearly labeled series of banners for its navigation, and the large purple font found in each section is both engaging and easy to read. In fact, the site is so well-composed that is has been awarded a Golden Web Award, which is an award created by Victorino, Knight Commander, to honor the best sites on the web that have less than 1000 hits and are about knights.
After a few moments on the site, one question will arise: how do I become a knight? Conveniently, there are two options. One is to become nominated by someone who finds you worthy of a knightly title. That person, having read the website's code and believing you to possess the required 12 virtues, can then go to the "nominate" scroll and enter your name, at which point you will receive an email inviting you to join the knighthood. The other option if you're short on friends, or none will vouch for you is to go to the "join" banner and pay $39, which is the approximate cost of endowing you with a knight's sense of chivalry and paying for the lamination on your membership card.
The perks of knighthood are limitless; this I now know firsthand. Deeming the candidate worthy, I quickly nominated myself for knighthood. When Victorino, Knight Commander, contacted me, I struck a chivalric deal: in exchange for a free membership, I would boldly spread word of the knight's honorable code around the world with my pen. Or, if nothing else, I would write something for the supposed quarterly newsletter, "The Lance." Grateful for the offer of my talents, Victorino, Knight Commander, accepted my deal and dubbed me Brother Knight Neil. Within the week I received my knightly membership package, which contained all the tools a chivalric knight will need: a certificate of knighting, the aforementioned membership card and a copy of the code. There was also a chivalry bumper sticker, for whatever worthy means of conveyance I may choose.
But there was something else included in that package: an entire shipment of responsibility. Right now, the world needs knights and their chivalrous shield against evil and corruption more than ever. Historically speaking, my chivalric forebears have fought bravely, treated their wenches honorably and, if current connotations are to be believed, held lots of doors for people. Now is my time to shine, from the internet. Yes, our country and our world may be in disarray. It may be polarized and skeptical, even pessimistic, about the future. But for as bleak as everything may seem, there is one thing that can be counted on: my brother knights and I, in the name of the Order of La Mancha, will do our part to ensure that chivalry is not dead.
As much as it might want to be.